Thursday, September 28, 2006

East for a bit

I’m sitting in an air terminal in Minneapolis. A direct flight from Philly to L.A., I didn’t see the part where we stop in Minnesota. No wonder it’s a seven and a half hour flight.
I’m on my way back from Pennsylvania, where I spent a long weekend. Back in town for my father’s 80th birthday, I also was able to do a few of the things that used to be routine there. I spent a couple hours shooting guns at my friend Joe’s farm, where I also stayed. An AR-15, an M-1 Carbine – the grouping on the target looked pretty darn good, till I started at it with a Glock.

Later, I drove the roads of Bucks County, marveling at the destruction the last strong rains have wrought.
One of the pilgrimages I make every time I go back to Pennsylvania is to the airport that was the inspiration for Diamond Road so many years ago; Van Sant Airport.

A beautiful day, I watched two bi-planes practice their take off and landings. To my ears, the sound of a biplane flying past as it takes off is one of the most glorious sounds there is. No matter how many times I’ve heard it, the thrill remains the same. There simply is nothing to match the roar of a radial engine as it blasts past you.

Yesterday, my last day in Pa, found me going back to Van Sant – an addiction that can’t be shaken. A friend of mine who still lives in Bucks had never been there, and that was enough reason to go and show one of my favorite places in the world. Staring at the parked classic airplanes parked on the grass found me succumbing… And with my friend urging me on, there was no escape.
Within minutes I was putting on a soft leather helmet and goggles and climbing into the front open cockpit of a 1943 Stearman Biplane.

With a “Clear”, the pilot, Azhar, fired up the engine and soon, we roared down the runway and into the sky. As we flew into the sky, I have to admit, I had to fight hard not to tear up with (ugh) joy. I’m currently tearing up from that previous corny sentence, yet it is absolutely true.

Announcement, seat calls, general boarding -
I’m now forty thousand odd feet above the Rockies, where the snow caps are reflecting brilliantly. Quite a view! A 757 is not nearly as exciting an airplane to fly in as a Biplane, but the views are unbeatable.

We, Azhar and I, flew around the Bucks County area for about twenty minutes. Being a Stearman, a trainer biplane, I had all the controls and gauges in front of me. Obviously, I didn’t touch anything, but it was interesting to watch what was going on – when I wasn’t looking over the edge at the scenery a couple thousand feet below me. Azhar was in the open cockpit behind me. Towards the end of the twenty minutes, he tapped my shoulder and made a straight-up motion with a flat open hand. When I nodded gleefully, up we went, into a somersault.
Just like the movies – Sky sky sky, then the horizon ground coming from above, then ground gound ground, and then the horizon skyline coming from above.

A short moment later, we did a Barrel roll, and then touched down – the gentlest landing I’ve experienced in any aircraft.

It’s an experience I recommend everyone try at least once in his or her life. If you live in the Bucks County Area, do it at Van Sant; the nicest bunch of people in one of the most scenic airports there is.

Today’s the day
In a few hours, once I’m back in L.A., I will be doing a DVD signing. Today is the re-release of The Last Broadcast. Did you get your copy yet?

As I have already done before, I will remind you again-- Go to and check out all the info.

So, back to work tomorrow, back to the real world (if Los Angeles can be considered the real world). May the feelings of soaring in biplanes remain – and may you too experience the same if you have not already.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Dylan is a Whore

To make sure I wasn’t reading anything out of context, I read the entire Bob Dylan interview in Rolling Stone magazine. Good interview, it goes all over the place talking about his new album, bootlegs, etc.

One paragraph has stuck in the craw of those who love their 1’s and 0’s.

Here it is, cut and pasted from Rolling Stone:

But getting the band of his dreams into the studio was only half the battle. "The records I used to listen to and still love, you can't make a record that sounds that way," he explains. It is as if having taken his new material down to the crossroads of the recording studio Dylan isn't wholly sure the deal struck with the devil there was worth it. "Brian Wilson, he made all his records with four tracks, but you couldn't make his records if you had a hundred tracks today. We all like records that are played on record players, but let's face it, those days are gon-n-n-e. You do the best you can, you fight that technology in all kinds of ways, but I don't know anybody who's made a record that sounds decent in the past twenty years, really. You listen to these modern records, they're atrocious, they have sound all over them. There's no definition of nothing, no vocal, no nothing, just like -- static. Even these songs probably sounded ten times better in the studio when we recorded 'em. CDs are small. There's no stature to it. I remember when that Napster guy came up across, it was like, 'Everybody's gettin' music for free.' I was like, 'Well, why not? It ain't worth nothing anyway.' ". . .

Okay. So Dylan thinks that Analog is better than Digital… I guess. He’s all over the place in terms of the process, jumping from the recording to the mastering to playback. Frankly, I’m guessing his hearing might be shot. It makes sense – he’s a sixty five year old rocker.

Whatever, I’ll give him his opinion. But this is Bob Dylan! If he wants, why doesn’t he record the way he wants? He could. He’s pining for something as if it no longer exists – which is a crock. It does. In fact, there’s plenty of analog machines gathering dust just waiting for you to use them, Bob.

Additionally, he’s wrong. Now, before any vinyl/analog nuts get annoyed, let me explain myself. There’s theoretically no end to how high you make a digital rate. So, the sound is only going to get better. Eventually, there’s no comparison. Whatever data rate 44.1k, 96k, 192k. 16, 20, 24 or more bit depth… you can keep throwing 1’s and 0’s at your problem fairly easily. You’ll blow that 4 track Brian Wilson used right out of the water sonically, if that’s what you want to do. (Genius not included)

Okay, Bob is right in some respects. Digital recordings can absolutely sound like crap. Just like analog tape that is slowed down to get the most recording time, when you listen to highly compressed digital recordings, MP3’s for instance, the sound quality can be atrocious. Low data rates, like the popular 128k MP3 rate, are where his griping rings very true. It can be a very mushy, flange-y listening experience.

So in that case, Bob, you’re right. To quote you, “It ain’t worth nothing anyway” – if it’s a low grade MP3.

But then…

Why did I see you pimping yourself in an Apple ITUNES commercial last night?

Are you expecting me to pay for that?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Feast on This

Feast on This

Just watched a trailer for Feast. You know, the Project Greenlight movie. The folks over at Fango got an exclusive, and it’s definitely worth checking out.
The movie has gone through quite some turmoil to get to the public. I’m glad everyone is going to finally get a chance to see it. John Guluger, the film’s director has really worked hard, and it shows. Congrats John, Clu, Diane and everyone else. It’s been a long road.

Also, in keeping with the mentioning and re-mentioning of friends (and myself of course) and our DVD releases and re-releases (enough with the re’s right?)

Down in the Valley – Directed by David Jacobson (Edward Norton, Bruce Dern, Evan Rachel Wood, Rory Culkin)
Head Trauma – Directed by Lance Weiler (Vince Mola, Jamil Mangan, Strange Hooded Figure)
And of course ---
The Last Broadcast

Went to the Hollywood Bowl last night. Good concert. One of the things I was really impressed by, which I don’t think gets a lot of credit, was the quality of the camera work and video switching on the big reinforcement monitors. You know – the large screen television you end up watching when you’re too far from the stage. Last nights work was as good as something you’d see on PBS. Fantastic close-ups of various musicians, cut and dissolves right on cue… Yeah, this was someone who cared, not just a jobber.
I’m going to try to see if I can find out who it was and give him a ‘well-done’. I know I’d be happy if someone out of the blue did that.

Okay, my day begins. I am now jamming through the writing. Like a rocket that’s been through countless delays, and technical issues- the engines finally got lit and are operating at full blast. Hallelujah!